We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Lisa Dunne and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Lisa, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
After 20 years in higher education, I got a glimpse at what was happening behind America’s academic curtain. I saw the dropout rates, crushing debt, and floundering students, and I knew there had to be a better way, a simpler way, a more effective and efficient way to educate the next generation. It would have been safer for me to stay cocooned in my well-planned career path, but I knew I had to take a risk if I wanted to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Go where there is no path and leave a trail,” and that was a perfect driving quote for me. There was no precise road map to follow because what I envisioned had not been done before, at least not in the modern era. So, I began formulating a hybrid model built on research and development from studies in business, education, interpersonal communication, psychology, neuroscience, even history. Out of that came a university system that is unique for two significant reasons: First, it’s the first mentor-driven university model in modern America, and second, as far as historians can tell us, it’s the first university ever to be started and run by a woman.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
CVCU was founded to address three primary challenges facing modern academia: outdated educational methodology, student loan debt, and highly polarizing content that leaves students ill-equipped both emotionally and academically. Many colleges and universities hire professors who lack the experience of real-world applications; they may be “book” smart but not practically smart. CVCU utilizes a mentor-driven practitioner model where students learn at the feet of giants who coach them through rigorous readings and engage them in Socratic discussions that prepare them for the workplace. Our professors are hired to be a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.” This model is tailored to the learning methodology of GenZs, and the fruit is clear. Instead of dispassionate, disengaged spectators in the classroom, students become engaged participants who are valued as a name, not a number. Additionally, CVCU operates in a fiscally sound, flattened hierarchical model that is committed to helping students graduate without any student loan debt. Across America today, the student loan debt has now exceeded $1.5 trillion, and sadly, California’s students own 1/10th of that debt. This overwhelming burden of educational debt has become just one more statistic connected to GenZ’s high levels of anxiety, depression, and “perpetual adolescence.” CVCU structures classes in a time-efficient manner that allows students to work and volunteer in their church and community during the week instead of being trapped in a “college bubble” that disconnects them from the real world. Finally, CVCU teaches content that actually equips students to succeed in the marketplace: emotional intelligence, team building, leadership, argumentation, research, and negotiation. Instead of simply memorizing anemic material for a multiple guess test, students learn to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. The traditional higher educational system pushes a one-size-fits-all model, but that is wholly ineffective in meeting the needs of today’s generation. Plato once said that every civilization must ask itself two important questions: Who is teaching the children, and what are they being taught? CVCU understands that our students will become like the company they surround ourselves with, so we choose mentors and role models who will help our students break through ceilings and shatter the stereotypes of the next generation. It’s a place of freedom, hope, conviction, innovation, and purpose. Blazing a new trail has not been without its challenges. There were no straight paths, no markers for security or clarity. I learned to surround myself with great men and women who sharpen me, encourage me, and challenge me. It is said that we become the sum of the five people we spend the most time with, so we must choose our influences wisely. This model has become the DNA of Chula Vista Christian University. We are a mentor-driven, faith-based, debt-free model of innovative education for the next generation.. Learn more about how we are changing the face of academia at CVCU.us.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
San Diego is a tourist destination, so there are many wonderful places to visit—and a week is not long enough to see them all! Every trip to San Diego should include a visit to our world-famous beaches (Coronado Island is one of our family’s favorites), and when in Coronado, be sure to walk the boardwalk behind the Hotel Del along with the small-town shops in the city center. Hop across the bay to Puesto in Seaport Village for some of the best tacos in the area (including the cactus taco, my personal favorite), and then finish up the night with a glamorous treat at Extraordinary Desserts downtown. The next day, you’ll want to swim or kayak off some of those extra calories, so head up to La Jolla for some snorkeling and kayaking (but don’t forget your wetsuit, because the Pacific Ocean can be a bit chilly). If you have elementary aged kids, a trip to LEGOLAND is a must; and visitors of all ages will enjoy the San Diego Zoo and its rustic counterpart The Safari Park, which is about an hour north of the zoo. Stay for afternoon tea at the Westgate downtown or sample some of the best fish and chips in San Diego at Shakespeare’s Pub. If you just can’t get enough of the fish taco life, stop by the hole-in-the-wall eatery Blue Water Grill, which was once featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (just know that the line for this made-to-order taco spot often wraps around the building). If traditional Mexican food is more your style, be sure to check out Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town San Diego for phenomenal food, entertainment, and some souvenir shopping. On Saturday, visit the farmers’ market in Little Italy for fresh veggies, bread, cheeses, and on-tap kombucha. Stay for brunch at the Queenstown Public Cafe right on the outskirts of the market, and then take the rest of the day to enjoy Balboa Park with all its museums, open space, and outdoor concerts and events. San Diego has everything for the outdoor lifestyle, from perfect weather to hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and sight seeing opportunities. Though a week isn’t enough to see it all, it will whet your appetite for a future visit to our beautiful beachfront city.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to recognize a company in Chula Vista called VisualizeLED. This local company provides broadcast-ready LED walls for entertainment venues, churches, and universities. But besides their excellent service, one of the things that makes VisualizeLED stand out is their commitment to generosity. They regularly give above and beyond the call of duty to serve companies and individuals in need. They can be reached at visualizeled.com.

Website: www.cvcu.us

Instagram: @chulavistau

Linkedin: DrLisaDunne

Facebook: Chula Vista Christian University

Other: Podcast: The Communication Architect (Spotify/iTunes) Radio Show: Mindset Matters (airs Saturdays at 11pm on KPRZ.com)

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